by Lee Barry, Community Ranger
Parawai Lodge sits in a grassy clearing, across a swing bridge at Otaki Forks, one of the main gateways to the Tararua Ranges. Getting regular use from walkers – including many on the increasingly popular Te Araroa trail – the hut was in need of a bit of spruce up and luckily help was at hand!
The 18-bunk hut was built, owned and maintained by Parawai Tramping Club for over 15 years until DOC took it over. They club even moved the hut to its present site from the other side of the Waiotauru river in 1986.
Their dedicated members came to the rescue once again last month with a working bee to clean down and paint inside and out, and to complete a number of building repairs.
A mammoth 237 person-hours of hard graft has transformed the lodge into a welcoming haven for trampers starting or ending their Tararua jaunt. Or for families simply seeking to spend a cozy fireside night in the bush.
The hut is hardly recognizable, and the exterior makeover only tells part of the story….
The inside walls got a thorough clean down, removing graffiti, candle soot, coal dust and cobwebs…
The throne room received its own special spruce-up, including re-silicon-ing the breather pipe. Pretty flash for a tramping hut loo!
But first the team had to overcome some confusion about access… “the door’s on the other side”…
Awkward, fiddly and hard-to-get-to spots called for special dedication…
The front porch was a bigger job that first thought after rotten timber was found. Volunteer Phil made a special trip home on Saturday night and returned with materials to complete the repair job on Sunday morning.
After all that hard work, Saturday evening was barbeque time. Some well-earned refreshments and a bit of a sing-along…
Kapiti Wellington Recreation/Historic Ranger Suzi Tuffin was amazed by the group’s work.
“They smashed it! I was intending to go up and help on the Sunday but I just wasn’t needed – they had it all under control.
“Working with communities in this way is very rewarding. We spec’ed all the jobs, supplied the materials and ensured the group were comfortable with the work. For me, it would have been nearly impossible to find the staff resource for this makeover, but these guys pulled it out of the bag.”
“We can’t thank Parawai Tramping Club enough for this massive effort. I hope the next trampers to visit this hut appreciate it as much as we do!”